New driving laws taking effect in the new year

(KRON) — The California Department of Motor Vehicles is warning motorists they’ll need to learn new rules of the road for 2016. The new laws look to protect child passengers, pedestrians and cyclists.

Some of the new regulations are changes to existing laws, according to the DMV.

Two of the new laws — child safety seats and reporting traffic crashes — will become active in 2016, but won’t actually take effect until Jan. 1, 2017, since it takes about a year for agencies to adhere to the new
modifications, AAA officials said.

The child safety seat law, Assembly Bill 53, requires children 2 years old to be secured in a rear-facing child safety seat, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatricians. Only children under 1 were required to ride rear-facing previously. The law provides exemptions for children over 40 pounds or 40 inches tall.

Senate Bill 491 raises the threshold for when any motorist involved in a crash is required to report it to the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Drivers will have to report it when an injury occurs or when
there is property damage above $1,000, more than the $750 amount mentioned in current law.

SB 491 prohibits drivers wearing earbuds in both ears while operating a vehicle or bicycle. The only exception is persons operating emergency vehicles.

This law, among other things, makes it unlawful to wear a headset covering, earplugs in, or earphones covering, resting on, or inserted in, both ears, while operating a motor vehicle or a bicycle. This prohibition does not apply to persons operating authorized emergency vehicles, construction equipment and refuse or waste equipment while wearing a headset or safety earplugs.

For a complete list of laws taking effect in the new year, drivers can go to dmv.ca.gov.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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